Friday 9/16/16

  1. All we need is a list of labels
  2. Can consent to incest ever be straightforward?
  3. Hiccup or end-point for GMOs?
  4. NCAA hypocrisy
  5. Free-riding

1

[T]he second sentence in her denunciation may be more illuminating when it comes to the state of the culture. It goes: “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it.” It isn’t a grammatical sentence, but in the present environment it doesn’t have to be.

All we need is a list of labels. The “-ists” and “-phobics” do the job of sense all by themselves. They don’t need grammar, only utterance …

… It characterizes a broad range of Americans as beyond the realm of civic recognition, now and forever.

If only people would start standing up to progressives, on camera, in the classroom, in print, and with conviction, and say, “What’s with all the name-calling? At what point did we turn these cheap and easy insults into the language of debate?”

(Mark Bauerlein)

2

Incestuous marriages could well be where the use of consent as virtually the sole basis for sexual morality will founder. These marriages will be coming to the courts over the next few years. They might even make it to the Supreme Court. And they will—or at least should—thereby bring to the fore the philosophical and legal complexities of the issue of consent. As it stands, there is no compelling reason within the philosophical framework of our current sexual-morality and marriage laws why such incestuous unions should not be contracted. To arrest and imprison this mother and daughter may honor the letter of the law but arguably does not respect its underlying spirit. But does anyone really think that consent in such a situation can ever be straightforward?

Do not misunderstand me. I abominate the very idea of incest and contemplate with horror a society that might sanction it by granting such unions the status of marriage. But I did not make our current laws nor the logic of their underlying principles. I’m simply thinking them through consistently as new challenges emerge and wanting to see them applied fairly to all. Please don’t shoot the messenger. But please do ponder the message.

(Carl Trueman, on the Oklahoma mother and daughter charged with incest)

3

Today, farmers are finding it harder to justify the high and often rising prices for modified, or GMO, seed, given the measly returns of the current farm economy. Spending on crop seeds has nearly quadrupled since 1996, when Monsanto Co. became the first of the companies to launch biotech varieties. Yet major crop prices have skidded lower for three years, and this year, many farmers stand to lose money.

Biotech farming has also shown limitations, given how certain weeds are evolving to resist sprays, forcing farmers to fork out for a broader array of chemicals. Some are starting to seek out old-fashioned seed, citing diminished returns from biotech bells and whistles.

“The price we are paying for biotech seed now, we’re not able to capture the returns,” said Ohio farmer Joe Logan. This spring, Mr. Logan loaded up his planter with soybean seeds costing $85 a bag, nearly five times what he paid two decades ago. Next spring, he says, he plans to sow many of his corn and soybean fields with non-biotech seeds to save money.

(Wall Street Journal, Behind the Monsanto Deal, Doubts About the GMO Revolution)

4

The NCAA is demonstrating the most obvious hypocrisy in the political stunt it announced yesterday by removing championship events from North Carolina over a law that is similar to laws in other states where the NCAA has held events for years. If the NCAA actually believed that no differences exist between men and women, it would merge its men’s and women’s leagues. Instead it hopes no one notices that it appropriately maintains separate leagues for men and women while it opposes the commonsense law that simply protected the privacy rights and dignity interests of North Carolinians. Twenty-three other states explicitly support the freedom of states to set their own policies and laws regarding locker rooms and restrooms, but the NCAA has chosen to engage in political opportunism and make an example of the good people of North Carolina. The NCAA should stick to serving its collegiate athletes and its diverse fan base rather than spending its resources on amateur political posturing and pandering to the narrow-minded power elite.

(Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek)

5

In Moral Truth and the Ethics of Voting: How Should I Vote?, philosopher Nathan Schlueter argued:

Does it follow from the “as if” principle that one is morally obligated to vote for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton in the next election, since it is virtually certain that one or the other of them will be our next president? Not necessarily, but the reason for refusing to vote would have to rest either on the justified belief that both choices are equally bad (and those who hold this belief should study with care Jeane Kirkpatrick’s classic essay “Dictatorships and Double Standards”), or, if one believes that one of the candidates really is worse than the other, on the justified belief that casting an inconsequential vote will have better long-term consequences than the short-term worst outcome (and those who hold this belief should offer a feasible strategy for moving ahead).

Political scientist Scott Liebertz casts Schlueter’s argument as “[a]bstaining (or voting for an unrealistic third-party candidate) represents a form of unethical free-riding, as abstainers expect others to decide the election while they stay home and enjoy a false sense of moral purity.”

A major problem with this argument is that it understates the significance of abstention as a strategic action, and we can look at an influential game-theoretic model to understand why. Voters find themselves not only in a collective action problem, but also in a version of Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty game, in which political party members are in conflict with their party or party leaders. When a party does something that is deleterious to its members—pick any number of actions or statements by Donald Trump that are offensive to Catholics and other conservative-minded voters, for example—the party members have three basic responses: exit the party (by withholding their votes or by some other means), use their voice (via some avenue of protest or complaint), or remain loyal. Without going step-by-step through the model, the insight of the game is that we should only expect the party leader to respond to the voice of its members when two necessary conditions are met: 1) the leader values the loyalty of the members, and 2) the members have a credible exit threat. Without a credible exit threat, someone like Trump knows he can take the party members’ votes for granted and has no incentive to give in to their demands.

Liebertz suggests that Trump knows there’s a credible exit threat — that his throwing out a list of potential Supreme Court appointees was motivated by nothing more or less than a credible exit threat.

I’m not sure that calculations like that fully apply to Trump. Trump is so unstable (deep down inside, he’s shallow) that his “heeding our voice” would mean no more than one more round of lies extemporaneous and ephemeral promises.

If I felt that I had to decide whether one of the candidates really is worse than the other (a dilemma I’ll likely be spared by the polls telling me it’s Trump getting my state’s electors anyway), it’s by no means certain that Trump would come out as the better choice.

Hillary will continue lining her pockets, waging wars of choice, supporting every abortion imaginable, packing the court and suppressing the deplorables — among whom I’m numbered by the imprecision of her dog-whistle epithets.

Trump’s very election would send a powerful message to both parties that there’s a very large number of people who are so fed up and so determined not to take it anymore that they’ll elect a crooked, immoral, narcissistic sociopath novice.

I’d consider voting for populist insurrection but for the candidate. The shaking up probably is good. The election of the [“all we need is a list of labels” — if they’re true] is certainly not. He’s a total wild-card who could easily be imagined bringing global catastrophe.

And the message presumably has been delivered already. If this election is forgotten as soon as it’s over, that will be an unimaginable omen of coming destruction.

Since the American Solidarity Party will not even be a meaningful write-in choice in Indiana this year, I may have to find another more-or-less acceptable third party alternative. If that makes me a free-rider, so be it. The alternative is to signal that nothing, howsoever loathsome, can separate me from a GOP POTUS nominee.

I think the long-term consequence of breaking the two-party system, with our current wretched parties, is a good thing. (Like I said, I could vote for populist insurrection but for the standard-bearer.) I don’t think that I, a mere voter, can be required to lay out a convincing map of how that feasibly plays out.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.